Saint Mary’s to Inaugurate James A. Donahue, Ph.D. as 29th President

Saint Mary’s will inaugurate James A. Donahueas the College’s 29th president on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013. 

President Donahue.Donahue, a committed and engaged Roman Catholic, became the first nonreligious to serve as president in the 150-year history of Saint Mary’s on July 1, 2013. The College is guided by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, the Catholic Church’s oldest order devoted exclusively to teaching. The Brothers’ history and educational mission dates back to 17th century France and their founder, John Baptist de La Salle, is the patron saint of teachers.

The installation ceremony will take place at 3 p.m. on the College’s Chapel Lawn. It is the culmination of a series of events to mark Donahue’s inauguration, including an inaugural Mass; an academic symposium on Catholic higher education, featuring several Catholic college presidents; performances by the Saint Mary’s jazz ensemble; and a festive barbecue for the local community.

Inaugural Celebration Schedule of Events

7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, Soda Center
Presidential Symposium: Catholic Liberal Arts Education in the 21st Century: Who Cares?
This engaging and interactive forum features leaders in Catholic higher education and will explore the relevance of a Catholic liberal arts education in today's world. Panel participants include President Donahue, University of San Diego President Mary Lyons, Seton Hall University’s President Emeritus Monsignor Robert Sheeran and Saint Mary’s Theology and Religious Studies Professor Brother Mark McVann, FSC. Provost Beth Dobkin will serve as moderator. Audience members will be invited to join the discussion, which is modeled after the College's Collegiate Seminar program, a hallmark of Saint Mary's curriculum in which students and faculty discuss and debate the works of some of the greatest thinkers throughout history.

10:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, College Chapel
Inaugural Mass
Featuring The Most Rev. Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, Presiding and Rev. Leo O’Donovan, SJ, President Emeritus of Georgetown University, Homilist

12 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, De La Salle Quad
Lunch for the Community
Featuring music by the Saint Mary’s Jazz Band

3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, Chapel Lawn
Presidential Inauguration Ceremony: Leading for the Future
Reception to follow

Location: Saint Mary’s College of California, 1928 St. Mary’s Road, Moraga, Calif. 94556

About James A. Donahue
An accomplished academic and administrative leader, President Donahue brings more than 20 years of executive leadership experience at leading U.S. institutions to his role at Saint Mary’s. Prior to joining the College, he served for nearly 13 years as president of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, Calif.  He also served for 15 years at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., as professor of theology and ethics, dean of students and vice president for student affairs and shared supervision with the university president for Division I athletics. Additionally, he has held faculty and administrative positions at Boston College and Santa Clara University.

President Donahue holds a B.A. degree from the College of the Holy Cross, a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union. Donahue’s nonprofessional interests range from jazz to political analysis to college basketball and professional baseball. He and his spouse, Jane Purinton, have two sons.

For more information about Donahue and the day’s events visit


Michael McAlpin
Director of Media Relations
(925) 631-4222 office
(925) 878-9535 cell


About SMC
The Saint Mary’s College of California experience inspires learning that lasts a lifetime. For 150 years, the College has provided students with a rigorous education that engages their intellect and spirit, and awakens a desire to transform society. Guided by the Christian Brothers, the Catholic Church’s oldest order dedicated exclusively to teaching, the College enrolls more than 4,100 students in undergraduate and graduate liberal arts and business programs. For more information visit Saint Mary’s College at and just 23 miles east of San Francisco.